PHILADELPHIA — Kawhi Leonard scored 39 points Sunday, including a clutch 3-pointer with 1:01 left, and the Toronto Raptors beat the Philadelphia 76ers 101-96 to even the Eastern Conference semifinal series at 2-2.

“Just really growing up learning from great players, I was fortunate enough to be on some good teams early,” Leonard said, “so I was able to see defenses and go on deep playoff runs, and I feel that helped me out today.”

Marc Gasol scored 16, Kyle Lowry had 14 and the Raptors rebounded after consecutive losses to reclaim home-court advantage.

“We needed some punch around the roster,” Raptors Coach Nick Nurse said. “It was a different mentality. Guys were looking to shoot, taking the first shot that was there.”

Game 5 will be Tuesday night at Toronto.

Jimmy Butler scored 29 and JJ Redick had 19 for Philadelphia, which is trying to reach the conference finals for the first time since Allen Iverson led it to the NBA finals in 2001.

Toronto, which earned the No. 2 seed after winning 58 games, has been bounced out in the semis two straight seasons.

Joel Embiid struggled after scoring 33 points in Philadelphia’s 21-point victory in Game 3, playing through an illness and scoring 11. Sixers Coach Brett Brown of South Portland said Embiid texted him early in the morning, saying he wasn’t sure if he could play.

“To his credit, he willed his way through it,” Brown said.

Butler banked in a 3-pointer from the top of the circle as the shot clock expired after briefly losing the ball to give the Sixers an 84-81 lead in the fourth. But Gasol answered with a 3 to tie it and the Raptors went up 89-85 on Leonard’s jumper. Butler and Leonard traded a pair of free throws before Redick hit a 3 to cut it to 91-90 with 2:07 left.

Following a turnover, Embiid missed a layup. Leonard then nailed a step-back 3 to put Toronto up 94-90. Danny Green made four free throws in the final minute to ice it.

Brown called Leonard’s 3-pointer a backbreaker and compared his ability to create his own shot to Kobe Bryant. The 3-pointer came right before the shot clock expired and Leonard had Embiid in his face.

“I came off a pick-and-roll. They were switching. Embiid is a good defender, long, and I just wanted to get it to the back of the rim,” Leonard said.

The Sixers failed to take control of the series and now must win at least one more game on the road to advance.

“We got humbled,” Butler said.

NUGGETS 116, TRAIL BLAZERS 112: Nikola Jokic had 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists for his second straight triple-double and fourth of the playoffs, and Denver won at Portland, Oregon, to even its Western Conference semifinal series at 2-2.

Jamal Murray scored a game-high 34 points and made all 11 free throws for the Nuggets, who handed Portland its first postseason loss at home this season. The series now heads back to Denver for Game 5.

CJ McCollum had 29 points and Damian Lillard added 28 for the Blazers, who missed out on taking a 3-1 lead in a conference semifinal for the first time since 2000.
Denver outscored the Blazers 27-14 in the third quarter to take an 84-77 lead into the final quarter. Malik Beasley kicked off the final period with a 3-pointer for the Nuggets.

Al-Farouq Aminu’s tip pulled the Blazers within 99-96 with 4:12 to go. Lillard narrowed the gap to one with a pair of free throws, but Will Barton hit a 3-pointer and the Nuggets held off Portland down the stretch, thanks largely to Murray’s free throw shooting.


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